Hi guys !
I've had SAD for more than 25 years (not non-stop, thank God) and I've long since been down the full spectrum light road; and I also have Crohn's Disease which affects my mood as soon as a bad flare hits. So here's my tuppenceworth: yes the lights work, tons of scientific evidence there, biochemically proven, lots of psychiatric hospitals in the UK use them (due to the lack of cost), not too sure about the flashing LED visors you get though. Personally, back in the days before I managed to buy a light on the installment plan the manufacturer was offering, I used to find a very bright halogen desk lamp would at least help stabilise my mood and sleep patterns, although it would not prevent the problems. White/blue wavelength light is definitely the charm. When I did get the lamp, within a couple of weeks, for the first time in years I was suddenly fit to work in winter, and got myself a job that more than recouped the cost. But it wasn't all sweetness and light - if I missed too much of the dose, I'd revert to feeling lousy,usually within 48 hours. Eventually I found that the best way to use my lamp was not to sit it on the breakfast bar - something was always distracting me, dragging me away from the light, decreasing the lux I got. Instead, I set the light on a timer switch next to the head of my bed, and used it as an artificial sunrise to wake up by - half an hour of artificial melatonin stimulation. By the time the light went off my radio alarm had gone on, and I was ready to get up. (And by the way, if you want to hear the radio in the morning, you really want the light EM shielded, or it's like a V8 truck with unprotected sparkplugs.)
The problem with this might be if you have a sleeping partner. I used to go away at weekends, staying in dorm type accomodation, and there were two reactions to my light in the kitchen. Some people would cluster around it like bees to honey, reacting very positively, and say things like "Oh maybe I should get one of these", and others would shield their eyes and complain bitterly, really not liking it at all, sometimes requesting me quite insistently to turn it off.
In the end, I stopped using the lamp I bought partly because it was the size of a small suitcase and very inconvenient to carry around, and partly because I found it difficult to get the dosage right. Too much light and I would get either very irritable or rapidly crash out like I'd been mickey finned: too little and I would still find myself tired and/or depressed, with an enormous craving for carbohydrates each evening. (For me, fatigue then carbohydrate cravings come before depression - physical then emotional symptoms.) I passed it on to a relative, and a decade later it is still doing the rounds of my first removeds, who like it but never quite manage to use it as regularly as they should. I'm actually thinking of buying it back.
Any time I get a bad flare up of my Crohn's it takes three days for me to get "instant SAD" regardless of weather. I suppose this is due to the fact that my gut stops being able to make serotonin due to the damage it is suffering, and this causes an overall shortage. The silver lining to this cloud is that I was prescribed Prozac to recycle my serotonin, and found that unlike all the other SSRIs, it worked beautifully at stabilising my mood and alleviating my munchies. Mild nausea, prevented by taking it before going to bed, a tendency to get manic prevented by taking the occasional day or two off the pills...I'm still not as energetic in winter as in summer, but on a scale of 1 to 10 I must be up around 7 or 8 compared to the bad old days of "hide the guns". I think I'm that rarest of rare creatures, a happy, safe, SSRI user.
I still crave sunlight in winter though...and I've just been given a halogen heater that to my delight has a nice cheery golden glow.Mmmm...I wonder if I put it next to the desklamp...?